Friday, May 1, 2015

Yes, I did.

Want to hear something "shocking"? I recently unfriended a lot of people on Facebook. Like A LOT. Family members, older friends and many, many acquaintances. There was a point in my not-so-distant past that I was excited  to watch the number of my “friends” rise higher and higher. Like I was really cool because I knew SO many people.

Yet I noticed that I was posting less and getting more annoyed by Facebook. It was this weird burden when it’s just supposed to be fun and an easy way to connect with people. So I stopped and thought about what I actually want to get out of Facebook:

  • I want to share parts of my day with people I am close to.
  • I want to see what those people are up to.
  • I want to read things that fill my soul not tear it down.
  • I want to read things to expand my horizons but not make me rant and whine and waste time getting upset about what someone else thinks.

So I stopped being “friends” with people just because I felt an obligation. A family member that always touts his/her way is the right and only way and this is why. An old friend who is always whining.  The person who only posts disgusting recipes. And all of the people who didn’t really need to be knowing my business anymore.

I honestly don’t feel bad about it. I know it will probably piss some people off or they will think I am callous to cut people out of my life.  But that’s the thing….they’re not really in my life.

We live half a country away from most of our family, so we rarely see our extended families and are not close with many of them. We’ve never really lived anywhere very long so most of the friends we made were good, but not necessarily people that we created enough of a bond with to continue to share things with.

So if you are not a part of my actual life, it’s really okay if you’re not a part of my Facebook “life.”

Saturday, April 18, 2015

One.

So here’s the thing: I am hurt. I am hurt and I am healing. I am waking back up to a world that I've been avoiding. I’m waking up to see that this new world can be good. That it IS good. That this good world for me is from my God. That He loves me and knew that this was always going to be my world, even when I was blind. He knew that this was the world meant for my good.
The world where I am a mother of one child on earth.

One.

I love you, Nora Jean. You are precious and precocious. You are sweet and full of spunk. You are snuggly and goofy and I love watching you become who God made you to be.

But I had planned more for you. More for me. I had planned brothers or sisters. Lots of them. Ones that you could wrestle with, ride bikes with, share secrets with. Ones that would drive you crazy, break your toys, try to tag along with your friends and fight with you.

A family with loud, crazy car trips. A family who fills a whole dinning room table. People you could call someday when I am being a crazy mom and say, “Yeah, I know.” People who have known you always.

I wanted a minivan full of kids. I wanted to fill the kitchen counter packing lunches someday. I wanted to watch my kids play with each other and grow up together. I wanted…I wanted…I wanted…

Yet what I have come to grips with is that I am limiting God. I am not trusting in His good plan for my life. I am not trusting in His good plan for Nora’s life. He has been whispering to me for awhile that I will not have more children. He’s been whispering and I've been terrified to admit that I've heard Him. Because I trust my God. He has shown me time and time again His goodness and mercy and love. I trust Him. I've followed His plan for me all around this country, through many trials. But to trust that this is really how my life was meant to be?

I am working on it. My big heart is there. It’s healing. It’s accepting the fact that I will have only one child to raise. It’s starting to feel whole. The little, small parts of my heart are still grieving. Grieving for MY plan for my family. 

Those little parts are still allowing Satan to speak lies to me……
…people are going to keep asking when you’ll have more, it’s gonna hurt hear that.
…they’ll tell you to believe in a miracle, shouldn't you trust God for a miracle?
…just giving up on fostering or adoption, that’s pretty selfish.
…is it really so wrong to wish for something different?

Last weekend at church, our pastor talked about trusting in God. Even when you don’t know the whole path, just the next 40 ft. My next 40 ft is a life with only one child in my home. I KNOW this to be true. I don’t know what God has for me later on but I know that I’m not supposed to look farther. He has called me to find peace with this new (to me) world. Learn to stop asking, “When will there be more?” Learn to love my family as being complete.

To be joyful, not just happy, with one.

Friday, November 28, 2014

All the Facts

So tonight I went home from a Thanksgiving gathering with my puke-covered sweater in a bag and wearing the a t-shirt borrowed from the host. And all I could think was, "I knew something was going to happen."

......

My first education class in college was child development. My professor was also the director/teacher of the university preschool. She was vibrant and intelligent.  11 years later, after teaching and now being a mom, I still am pulling our pieces of information that she taught me.

One such piece is how to evaluate a child's behavior. She said that when a child acts out, you should look at the following three things, in this order:

  • The Child's Environment: Is she hot/cold? Is it a new place? Is there enough for her to do? Is there too much to do? Is she hungry or tired?
  • My Behavior: Am I expecting too much? Am I challenging her enough? Am I too tired and not listening well to her? Did I give enough time to transition? Did I force her to do something she wasn't ready for? 
  • The Child's Behavior: Only after you have looked at the child's environment and your own behavior can you look at the child and start to deal with how to move forward to correct the behavior in the future.
It seems that so often parents (myself included) expect our little ones to do and be more than they are truly capable of. This article from Grounded Parents showed up on my Facebook News Feed tonight. It does a good job of explaining how to set realistic and appropriate expectations on our kids, especially with the approaching holiday celebrations. 

......

Years ago, just after Adam and I were married, I remember talking to a girlfriend about her new role as a mom. She was starting to butt heads with her in-laws and extended family about her parenting practices. This mom wouldn't bring her kids to family events if they fell during nap time. She wouldn't let her kids eat just anything that Grandma offered (i.e. lots of rich, sugary foods all day). I remember listening to her and thinking that it must be hard to stand up for your kiddos. But good job, Mom!

Adam and I are lucky to have supportive family and friends, so thankfully we don't have to stand up for Nora's well being to others very often, be we do have to pay attention to it ourselves. Almost every time that Nora has had a tantrum or meltdown, Adam and I can look back and realize that it is usually our fault, not hers.  One time Adam even said, "Yeah, we messed up today."

I don't think that we need to beat ourselves up about messing up, but I do think that it is important to acknowledge to ourselves and to Nora when we have messed up. When Nora went to bite another girl at a play date, I definitely stopped her and told her it was not okay but I also realized that the house was a pigsty after 2 hours and three toddlers. It was past lunchtime. I should have asked everyone to leave earlier instead of trying to let them stay longer. Nora only reacted because I was expecting her to behave in a situation that she wasn't yet capable of doing. 

......

So why did I have to wash puke out of our clothes tonight? Here's all the facts:
  • We moved this past weekend. Though Nora has handled it well, I know that her fuse is shorter.
  • We moved this past weekend. I did not handle the packing process well and my fuse is shorter.
  • Adam has been working late hours for weeks and any time at home has been spent working around the house.  Nora misses her daddy and is a little more emotional.
  • We went to Thanksgiving at a good friend's house, whom Nora loves, but there were a lot of new people there. Lots of food she didn't eat. I brought a few things, but pretzels and applesauce do not a dinner make, at least not for my chow hound.
Top Fact: No nap today. This has never happened. No joke. NEVER in 2+ years. Like I said, I knew something was going to happen. 

Nora had a blast, she ran around with the other girls, got to jump on the beds, even started to warm up to all of the new people, surprising me with how outgoing she was becoming. I knew that she was going to get tired but she was just having so much fun. I didn't want to stop her. We don't have family here so she doesn't get these type of experiences very often. But I should have.  We should have planned to leave early. Give her plenty of time to adjust to the transition. We could have left in all our own clothes.

But instead I pushed it and finally the ceiling fell. She bumped into another kiddo and started to cry. It was an exausted cry that didn't have a quick end in sight. So I decided to just go. No transition, no calm emotions. I was done and decided that we all were. And she lost it. She did not want to go because she was having fun. She screamed and sobbed and got so hysterical that she threw up three times. Nora and I ended up with her half naked in the backyard while she calmed down. 

After calming down, we talked about why we were leaving. She willingly put on her shoes and jacket and gave hugs to her buddies. And I went home smelling and feeling like puke. 

I also left with a good reminder of why we do the hard things of parenthood. Why we say no to good things. Why we place limits. Why it is important to know how much our children can handle. There will always be circumstances out of my control but when I pay attention to all of the facts I can do my best to help my daughter.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Commuting


We are in the final days of packing around here. Which means that  I have become "stress-paralyzed." The list of things to accomplish looms at me and I want to just go hide in my closet and hope it completes itself. Once Nora goes down for a nap or bed, I should work. But I don't. I zone and ignore the boxes.

I went to see a movie with some friends tonight and on my way home I just kept driving. I told Adam that I just needed to drive and listen to music for a bit. My husband, who is awesome, said, "Ok. I'll just keep packing." Oh, the Lord gave me a good man.

As I drove I realized that I miss commuting.

For most of my "working" life, I commuted 20-30 minutes each way. Lots of times I heard, "Uhhg, that's too bad." But it never bothered me.  It was time on the way to work to get my head cleared and ready to go. It was time on my way home to wipe away the craziness and prepare to be home. I called girlfriends, my parents and my sister, even invested in an earpiece at the insistence of my mother. I zoned. I gripped the wheel and prayed to stay on the road while driving on ice in the middle of an Iowa blizzard.

I sang.

I listened.

I worshiped the Lord. I settled in His grace. His words washed over me and built me up. I cried tears of pain and tears of hope.

There is a special way that music sounds to me in a car. It is trapped in the small space with me. It envelops me. I can listen to it LOUD. I can sing LOUD. I can cry HARD. I can get lost in the moment and just be with God in a way that I rarely can anywhere else.

These days my commute consists of rolling out of bed and walking five steps to Nora's room. My job is fantastic. There are very few days where I don't want to go to "work." It's definitely hard and challenging but I know it is what I was placed here to do.

But a little commute would  be nice. ;)

I know there are ways that I can check-in (or out) while at home. I need to work on doing this better. But to be honest, I'm not the most disciplined person. If there is a tv available, I'll most likely turn it on and lose an hour. If my phone is available, I'll keep checking this app and that app and lose another hour.  When I am driving by myself, there is no tv. I can't look at my phone. It is harder to get side-tracked into wasting time.

Right now I don't have a solution. But tonight I created a commute. And it was great. And I feel better. I feel connected. I feel peace. When I stop and listen, God always show up.

You will lift my head above the mighty waves 
You are able to keep me from stumbling
 And in my weakness 
you are the strength that comes from within
 Good shepherd of my soul 
Take my hand and lead me on 
Bethel Music - "Shepherd"

P.S. Anyone worried that I am not paying attention to the road, I never actually check out of driving. And I never would do this in traffic or bad roads.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Secondary Families

I love where I am.  I love where I have been.

I miss where I have been.  I wish I knew where I will be.

My adult life has not followed any sort of "normal" pattern. I could go on about the numerous ways in which it has deviated from what my childhood self thought that adulthood should look like.  But right now I am just musing about people.

I am musing because I am stepping back into my own timeline this summer. Since my "boss" likes to travel, we are spending a whole month back in the Midwest. It's a little ridiculous, taking a toddler on two plane trips, six long car trips and five different beds. I know. I am probably going to need to hibernate for the rest of the summer.

If you have peeked into my life at all, you know that Adam and I are professional movers, or we should be by now. In eight years of marriage we have moved nine times, lived in six states, held a total of 14 jobs and attended or visited countless churches. We have met A LOT of people. God has blessed us with a lot of GOOD people. So I sit here tonight, while everyone else has of course been in bed for hours, thinking about these people.  Thinking about how blessed I am to have so many people, in so many places, that love me and care about my family. So here is a glimpse into my summer...

...We DROVE to see the girl who was my roommate but then ditched me to go to Scotland for spring semester. Even though she only lived with us for the first half of the best year of dorm life, I have very few memories of that year without her.  I guess life was boring once she left. I mean, not much can top the fringed, "flapper" dresses we wore for 20's night during homecoming. The significance of the word "drove" may be lost if you don't stop to think that I live on the West Coast and almost everywhere else I lived was along the Mississippi River. If I could drive to visit this girl, it means that she moved away too. We're both settling into a new part of the country at the same time we are settling into motherhood.  We know what it is like to parent without grandparents across town. We know what it is like to try to make new friends. We feel the pain of shopping for flights.  We are in the same stinking time zone!!!

...We hung out with long time family friends who have been family to me for decades. I didn't have family in town growing up. Ever. Not even within driving distance.  I love all of my family but I just didn't get to see them very often. My parents surrounded my sister and I with good friends that became extra aunts and uncles and their kids were my cousins. Many late nights of card games and pictionary. Salmon and fireworks. Nintendo and pool games. Ducks and dogs. We share no family traits or bloodlines, but they are my family.

...I got to hold the sweet newborn babe of the girl whom I have known since I was only a few months old. She is one of the best people with great energy for life. There isn't much about me that she doesn't know. She tried to help me when I was being stupid in high school and welcomed me back once I finally woke up. She knows my grandparents. She was a buddy to my little sister. She remembers the crazy, long birthday messages that we wrote to each other in high school. We went to preschool, elementary school, junior high, high school and college toether. She will always be there.

...I went to coffee with a girl that I met in Kindergarten and lived three houses down from me. We talked for hours. Both of us went through periods of life where we made choices that put up walls between us. Thankfully those walls are down and we have grown into better people and closer friends. We don't talk much outside of my visits back home, but I truly cherish her and the time we do get to spend together.

...Adam and I got to hug the belly of a girl that lived on my floor freshman year of college, was my RA for two years, roommate for a year and bridesmaids in each other's wedding the same summer. That belly holds a baby that no one but God ever thought was possible. The girl with the belly adopted a beautiful little girl last summer and found out that she is now pregnant and expecting this fall.  Two years ago she was feeling defeated and losing hope in motherhood, while I was pregnant.  We hit the "pause" button for awhile.  I know what it is like to watch someone become a mother when all you are getting is a big, fat "NO." Now we are rejoicing together about the wonderful stories that God is creating within our families.

...I marveled at the little girl who is going to preschool this fall and her little sister who is so eager to keep up. Their mama was my roommate the year that everyone else seemed to be an RA but us. We watched lots of Ever After and became Gilmore Girl junkies. We both lost little ones a year apart.  She was blessed to get pregnant again shortly after that and I had a hard time with that. I was overjoyed for her and the little bundle (who is now going to preschool) on the way but I had to ask her to pause our friendship for awhile.  She was ever so gracious and understanding. She didn't ask questions or get mad.  She gave me the gift of loving space. Now she is the mom that's "been there" and shares what the next stage in life is like. She is powerful woman who cares for all and gives her all.

...Nora and I went to visit one of the first friends that I made in college. We met during freshman orientation and quickly boned even though she lived on the other side of campus. There wasn't much we didn't do together that first year, including driving across the state to watch our school's hockey team. She ended up transferring out the next year but we both went to each other's weddings and are able to keep up with each other on Facebook.

...We will explore the homestead of the girl who was my first friend in Adam's family. We double dated at the Olive Garden and watched The Red Green Show in the basement. We went boating and four wheeling. She helped me to explore farm life.  She now has a beautiful, old, family farmhouse which she helped to completely remodel. While kids weren't easy to conceive, she now has four beautiful children and one up in heaven with ours. She raises chickens and goats, breeds dogs, cans and freezes everything and works. I get tired thinking about her life! She also has a little boy who is exactly the same age that Aaron would have been. We were due just a couple weeks apart.  Some days, Adam and I look at her Facebook posts about him and get a glimpse. Maybe Aaron would be doing that, too.  Would Aaron be that tall? Would he play with his sister the same way?

...I will get to worship at the church that taught me so much about who God really is and what it really means to be a Christian.  For some crazy reason I decided that I didn't want to teach when we moved to Iowa so I got a job working at our church. I ended up planning websites, organizing social media campaigns, coordinating communication projects and meeting some of the best people in the world. I don't even know how many of them remember me but I think about them often. How they stood by me through the hard years of infertility and loved me through my young working days when I thought I was pretty cool and got too big for my britches. God has provided wonderful church homes to us since leaving here, but there is just something about this place. God is doing a mighty work through these people and it is exciting to watch from a far.

...We will go HOME. Home to a place that feels like home. A place that made me stop staying that I was visiting "home" on trips like this and start staying I am visiting family, friends or the Midwest. (Though apparently the West Coast considers the Midwest "back East." Weird.) A place that is home because of the people. The people who came to my house at 5:00 am to stay with Nora when Adam had to take me to the hospital. The people who took Nora day after day this spring while I dealt with a miscarriage that went on for months. The people whose kids go through their drawers to find clothes and shoes to give to "Baby Nora." The people who I met on a local Facebook group but just happen to live across the street with a little girl Nora's age. The people who schedule their kids' birthday parties so that we can make it. The people who catch the food Nora spits out of her mouth, and think nothing of it. The people who take us to the airport, pick me up things at Target, pack extra snacks for Nora and bring me chocolate.

I don't know how long we will be there. I don't know where we will go. But I do know that someday we will leave these people, too. Someday He will call us somewhere else. He will have new people for us to meet. I am thankful for the time we have been given with all of these secondary families.

P.S. Family (Mom) I know that I didn't talk about you at all in this post. Don't feel unloved or unappreciated.  Tonight I just felt the need to reflect on the secondary families that God has given us along our journey.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Truth Be Told

So I took one of those "completely scientific" quizzes the other day to determine the career I am destined for...writer. To which my mom promptly responded, "Didn't I tell you?"

I have never been a loss as to what career I wanted. I wanted to be a teacher. Then I wanted to be a mom. I am mom. And yes, still a teacher.

But truth be told, I am a writer.

I know that these quizzes are not scientific but once I got the results I just went, "Yup." I may not be a fantastic writer or a writer who writes anything that others want to read, but I am a writer.  I think in words that need to be written. I think in words that shouldn't be written.  I think in words that are such a waste of time.  Did I need to "write" that as a Facebook post in my head, revise it five times and then never post to Facebook?

I never proclaimed myself to be a writer because I really don't like or care for most parts of proper English. I don't like grammar, I am a horrific speller and I know that you're not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition but can't figure out how not to do that without sounding uptight. I don't know if I under or over use commas. I don't write in any sort of normal form. Allegories, allusions and the like were my Achilles heel in high school.  My girlfriend was an English major in college and I cringe a little every time I write something that she'll read.  She has never corrected me because, you know, we're friends.  But I know that she's shook her head at me more than once. :)

But truth be told, I like to write.

I feel my feelings through words. I work through things best in words. I want to write more than I do. Part of it is being lazy, but most of it is fear.  There are many people that write in private notebooks or documents on a computer never to be shared. I do some of this. But lots of days I feel like I am supposed to be writing openly.

It scares me because I don't like criticism. I don't like fake praise. I don't like heartfelt, "I know exactly how you feel," statements from people who have gotten a splinter if I am talking about a railroad tie sticking out of my thigh. (Fyi...I have never had a railroad tie sticking out of my thigh.) But more and more often I feel the need to write.

To write about things that truly matter.  Thing that are hard. But things that are true.

If you look back through my previous 175 blog posts, you will find that most of them are "showy." I showed you my card making efforts, baking adventures and home improvement adventures. While there is nothing wrong with these things, the posts were all written to show off something. To become the next Pioneer Woman or a "famous" paper crafter.

The one thing that is still as true about myself as the first day I started this blog is that I am waiting for directions. I don't remember how the title actually came to me but it has quietly become a phrase that has woven itself through my life. Some days I cling to it. Other days I rage at it. Most days I just just nod, smile, look at Adam and know that we are still waiting for directions.

But truth be told, I have come to learn that I will always be waiting for directions from the Holy One.

The one who knows the course my life will take. Who knows why it is winding this way or that way. Who knows when and how much to share with me. Though I keep trying to be in charge, making my own plans, telling Him how my life should go and when it should happen, He is continually teaching me the truth.

I would like to say that I take His directions well. But if you are my parents, sister or husband, you probably know that this isn't the case. I am a redhead. I am stubborn. I am fiery. I need to be in charge and oh man, do I need to be RIGHT! And God knows this about me. He made me. So he also knows how to reach me.  It's usually slapping me upside the head.

Well, no, that's not entirely true.  He really knows that I have patience problem. So He is teaching me to wait. To wait on Him. To wait for directions from HIM instead of making and following through with my own plan. Then He slaps me upside the head with truth and plans that I would have never chosen for myself. Honestly, I usually don't like them.  A lot of them in the past few years have felt pretty crappy.

But truth be told, He is right.

He has never failed to make a bad choice. He has never failed to be unnecessarily hurtful. He has never failed to show me His goodness and love. Sometimes I recognize it right away. Sometimes it takes awhile. But I have come to trust in His goodness and love. I have come to trust that when things seem bad or even "stuck," He is working. He has a plan. And it is good.

I am a writer.
I have a messy, but God directed life.
So, sometimes, I just might write about it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Room for a Little Girl

After many years, we finally got to create a nursery. Since we are renting, there was only so much we could do but I think that fact just helped me to keep things clean and simple. I came home from shopping at one point with lots of pink and white. Adam was less than thrilled, but willing to deal with it. Then I saw a vinyl decal online that changed everything. Lots of fall colors for my fall baby.

When we first got the nursery put together, I loved walking past it and seeing this…

nursery_view2

It made me feel excited to think about bringing home my little girl one day soon.

See that tree peeking out? Since I couldn’t paint, I wanted to get color on the wall somehow. At first I bought the same wall decal but with pink leaves. It was cute, but after a little web searching, I stumbled onto this one and fell in love. It also has some green and blue leaves if we ever want to change things up.

nursery_view1

The letters were from Michael’s and painted with a lovely pumpkin-hued paint. The crib was from Babies’R’Us and was a storage bin up until a few weeks ago when we moved Nora out of her pack’n’play in our room.

nursery_crib

This shelf used to hang in our entryway, but seeing as we have no entryway in this apartment this is a good place for it. The animals are some of my old favorites. The cows are old bookends of Adam’s. The adorable red dress was for my brother-in-law’s wedding in December. It no longer fits, but is just too pretty to sit in a box. The sweater was knitted by my grandmother. It’s a little big now, but it also is too pretty to sit in a box. :)

nursery_shelf

Many hours have already been spent rocking here, and a few stories have been read, too. The nightstand is actually from my childhood bedroom.

nursery_chair

We bought this recliner back in June to be used for rocking and nursing, but to stay in the living room. My parents had my old wooden rocking chair that we were going to use in the nursery. When we got to Vancouver at the end of the summer, we found a small tear in the footrest. I called to get it repaired with our extended warranty, but instead they just sent me a check to replace it!

Having a black dog, that light-colored recliner was always dirty so we decided to move the original into the nursery (since there was nothing wrong with it) and buy a darker color for the living room. So now we have two recliners for the price of one!

View of the other side of the room…

nursery_dresser

I LOVE this dresser from Ikea.  We looked at dressers in the “baby” collections at other stores. A lot more expensive for a lot less space. We’ll spend a little time in assembly if we can end up with a nice piece like this. It has room for all of her clothes, cloth diapers, linens and a whole drawer just for clothes in the next size up.

nursery_dresser2

I found this phrase online and fell in love, but I knew a white decal would not work on a white wall. After some brainstorming, we ended up buying a couple pieces of 1X4  molding, securing them together and then added a little more of the pumpkin paint.

nursery_wallhanging

This cross hangs on her wall just as you leave the room. I found it in a gift shop and thought it looked pretty, but when I looked up the verse that was written on it I knew it belonged in my little girl’s room.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
                                                                                              Proverbs 3:5-6

nursery_cross